Animated ‘Reign of the Supermen’ Slated for January

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated superhero movie Reign of the Supermen through digital retailers Jan. 15, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Jan. 29.

The latest entry in the DC Universe brand is a sequel to The Death of Superman, released earlier this year, and continues the adaptation of the popular 1990s comic book storyline. Reign of the Supermen finds Superman’s absence filled by four super-powered individuals, each claiming his legacy after the Man of Steel’s body disappears, fueling rumors that he could still be alive.

The cast includes Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane, Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor, Cress Williams as Steel, Cameron Monaghan as Superboy and Patrick Fabian as Hank Henshaw, plus Jason O’Mara as Batman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Christopher Gorham as The Flash, Nyambi Nyambi as Martian Manhunter and Tony Todd as Darkseid.

The Blu-ray and digital versions will include a “Lex Luthor: The Greatest Nemesis” featurette; a preview of the next DC Universe Movie, Justice League vs. The Fatal Five; and bonus cartoons

“Heavy Metal” from “Superman: The Animated Series,” and “Panic in the Sky” from “Justice League Unlimited.”

DC Universe SVOD Service Bowing ‘DC Daily’ News Show

WarnerMedia’s pending subscription streaming video service DC Universe is launching a news show dubbed “DC Daily,” which bows Aug. 29 at 4:30pm PT and is hosted by director Kevin Smith.

The show’s debut will be live-streamed at FacebookTwitch and YouTube.The DC Universe SVOD platform is officially launching Sept. 15, and costs $7.99 monthly or $74.99 annually.

DC Daily pledges to offer DC Universe subscribers an added depth of news content that ties back to the original series, comics and community on the service.

The show will be hosted by a variety of faces familiar to DC fans, with special guests and other co-hosts joining as well. Currently, theformat is scheduled to include ‘Headlines,’ a run-down of daily news briefs; ‘Reports,’ a single-topic segment that may feature an in-depth interview or deep dive into an upcoming book, film or series; and ‘Talk,’ a panel discussion including in-depth analysis about today’s hottest topics and news, which will be available only to DC Universe subscribers.

DC Daily will be filmed and streamed daily from a 2,100 square foot set built especially for the show at a Warner Bros. Digital Networks studio location in Burbank, Calif. The custom-designed sets include original large-format panel artwork of iconic DC characters, as well as plenty of conversational seating, demonstration stations and stand-up viewing areas for hosts, guest commentators and special guests.

 

‘Death of Superman’ Filmmakers Focused on Story’s Emotional Core

Finding a real-life couple to portray an iconic love story can be a huge boon to a movie. At least, that was the thinking The Death of Superman filmmakers had when casting real-life husband and wife Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell to provide the voices for Lois Lane and Clark Kent in the animated film.

And yet, they were never together at the same time to record their dialogue.

“Ironically Jerry and I get to play out one of the most classic love stories of all time and we didn’t get to work together one day,” Romijn said. “They set it to the animation and we’d go in to tweak our dialogue and that was the first time we saw our scenes together to see if they worked or not.”

Despite that quirk in the production, O’Connell said their natural chemistry still managed to come through once it was all edited together.

“We really have a rapport with each other,” O’Connell said. “It’s amazing that we were not in the same room at the same time, but we just had a cadence that was really cool to listen to. It was really fun, and I think it really helps the movie because much of Death of Superman is about Clark telling Lois a lot about him.”

The couple was on hand with other cast members and some of the filmmakers to promote the film at its world premiere July 20 at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International.

The latest installment of the DC Universe series of ‘PG-13’-rated animated superhero movies, The Death of Superman will be released digitally July 24 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Aug. 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film, based on the iconic comic book storyline from the 1990s, features Superman giving his life to defend Metropolis from an unstoppable creature named Doomsday. In the comics, Superman’s absence leads to other heroes taking up the mantle of the Man of Steel, a storyline that will be dealt with in a follow-up movie called Reign of the Supermen due next year.

In addition to O’Connell and Romijn, the movie features the voice talents of Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Christopher Gorham as The Flash, Matt Lanter as Aquaman, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Nyambi Nyambi as Martian Manhunter and Cress Williams as John Henry Irons.

Filmmakers wanted to avoid repeating how the story had been adapted before. Elements were used in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and an extremely abridged version of the story called Superman: Doomsday was the first DC Universe animated movie back in 2007.

Executive Producer James Tucker said that first version performed very well on home video, but the limited running time meant a lot of material had to be omitted and as a result the story didn’t have the resonance it should have had.

“I think the death of Superman needs time to build to and sink in,” Tucker said. “In Doomsday, in the first 15 minutes is pretty much when he got killed. So in this one the whole movie is about what leads up to the event and then we have all this time to show it. So I think it gives you more of an impact because you see what he went through prior to dying. So I think hopefully it has a bigger impact.”

To help craft the final battle, Tucker brought in action-animation veteran Jake Castorena as co-director alongside Sam Liu, who handled the earlier parts of the film.

“James said from the get-go we wanted to do a visceral approach to it … from the point of view of Metropolis,” Castorena said. “Yes, it’s about the fight between Doomsday and Superman, but it’s also about the fallout — the ramifications of seeing your champion being humanized in front of your eyes.”

Castorena said he made a special effort to make sure the fight scenes were integral to the story.

“I want you to feel tired when you’re done watching this movie, with Superman fighting Doomsday, but we need to track the heart, we need to track his thought process,” Castorena said. “It wasn’t necessarily to make it about the choreography of the fight, but it’s about the emotional impact of the fight, the fatigue of the fight, and what that does to Superman and the people who know and love him.”

Tucker said tying the film to the continuity of earlier films also helped develop the emotional impact of the story.

“The thing I like about the Justice League in this one is we take time to show their personal friendships with Superman,” Tucker said. “We actually show them being a team and doing mundane team things like having a meeting and kind of being bored and giving each other relationship advice and stuff like that. So I think the story gets helped by being in the continuity and seeing their relationships, so when the ultimate thing happens of him dying it means something.”

A key story element for Romijn was Clark finally telling Lois about his secret identity as Superman.

“I think the weight of that knowledge for Lois Lane really becomes apparent when she witnesses the huge battle between Superman and Doomsday,” Romijn said. “Obviously it’s a lot to take on when your boyfriend is not exactly who he said he was. But, yeah, I think watching this massive battle go down it makes it a lot more emotional.”

“What’s so great about these DC animated films is that while the action is great and you’re going to get a great fight with Doomsday and the whole Justice League is going to try to get in on it, it’s the drama that’s really good as well,” O’Connell said.

Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell

Warner Bros. Sets ‘DC Universe’ SVOD Pricing

Warner Bros. Digital Labs’ pending over-the-top video service, DC Universe, July 19 disclosed its pricing, which is $74.99 annually pre-ordered or $7.99 monthly upon launch.

Warner will be selling memberships at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International, which runs through July 22.

In conjunction with the pricing announcement, Warner released a first-look at the SVOD service’s upcoming original series “Titans” with the trailer premiere.

The series will debut on the digital service in the fall of 2018. In addition, more DC library content has been confirmed for DC Universe, including “Batman Beyond” (1999), the animated “Justice League” series (2001-04) and “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (2008-11).

DC Universe is also offering The Aquaman Premiere Sweepstakes. Fans who pre-order between Thursday, July 19 (9:30 a.m. PT) and Sunday, July 22 (5 p.m. PT) will be automatically entered for a chance to win two tickets to the U.S. premiere of the Warner Bros. Pictures film Aquaman in December.

Comic-Con attendees who visit the DC booth #1915 and pre-order, will receive an exclusive collectible T-shirt. Fans can also visit the DC UNIVERSE Experience at the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter to immerse themselves in content from the upcoming service and literally walk through the new originals, beloved classics and iconic comics.

Fans who pre-order a yearly membership before the service’s launch in fall 2018 will get an additional three months of DC Universe for free. Annual memberships will go live with product availability in the fall.

The SVOD service will be available in fall 2018 as a direct-to-consumer digital service, backed by Warner Bros. Digital Networks and built by Warner Bros. Digital Labs.

Subscribers have access to new original live-action and animated series, classic TV series and films, a curated selection of comic books, breaking news, an expansive encyclopedia, and access to exclusive merchandise, among other features.

Warner Bros. Bowing ‘DC Universe’ SVOD Service

Warner Bros. in August will beta-launch “DC Universe,” a first-of-its kind subscription streaming video service affording access to exclusive content and experiences “not available anywhere else.”

Subscribers will have access to original live-action and animated series, classic TV series and films, a curated selection of digital comic books, breaking news, an expansive DC-centric encyclopedia, social media connections and exclusive merchandise.

Operation of “DC Universe” will be managed by Sam Ades, GM and SVP, Warner Bros. Digital Networks, based in Burbank. Ades formerly served as the SVP, direct-to-consumer, for DC Entertainment, where he was responsible for creating and executing DC’s digital marketing strategy.

The service (dcuniverse.com) will be available in the United States at launch on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV, as well as the Web.

“Developing new ways for consumers to access some of our most popular and iconic brands and franchises as well as exclusive new content whenever they want, on the devices they choose, is one of our studio’s top priorities,” Craig Hunegs, president, Warner Bros. Digital Networks, said in a statement.

With an undisclosed price-point, “DC Universe” was first disclosed last year, and jump-started following AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner (including Warner Bros.). A mandate of the deal is leveraging Warner Bros.’ assets through digital channels.

“We are investing in and creating original, high-quality shows, including the new ‘Titans’ series, and curating the most beloved nostalgic content, while at the same time elevating the comic reading experience to new heights. Nothing this robust has ever been offered to fans before,” said Jim Lee, chief creative officer and publisher, DC Entertainment.

At the heart of “DC Universe” will be an exclusive original live-action and animated series based on DC’s iconic characters. Developed by Warner Bros. Television, “Swamp Thing” and “Doom Patrol” are scheduled to debut in 2019, following live-action adventure series, “Titans,” which premieres later this year. Warner Bros. Animation is also developing a slate of animated TV series based on existing fan favorites, including “Harley Quinn” and the third season of “Young Justice: Outsiders” animated series, which are both scheduled to debut in 2019.

The platform’s launch will also include all four original Supermanmovies, as well as a selection of animated movies, including Justice League: The Flashpoint ParadoxGreen Lantern: First Flight, and Wonder Woman. The service will also feature classic TV shows, including the first two seasons of “Batman: The Animated Series” and the original “Wonder Woman” series available for the first time in HD.

The “DC Universe” comics reader will feature access from a smartphone or tablet to a living room screen. Subs can scroll through their favorite comics. A curated selection of thousands of DC comics will be available to subscribers from a library that includes decades of comics creations.

“We wanted the ‘DC Universe’ comics reader to be a blend of art and technology that would further enhance fan’s experiences of the live-action and animated programming,” said Dan DiDio, publisher, DC Entertainment. “This hand-curated selection … gives fans a thematic digital long-box to carry with them … or lets them watch exclusive video content on a big screen followed by the comic that inspired it.”

 

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 4/10/18;
Warner;
Animated Action;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout, sexual content, brief graphic nudity, and some drug material.
Voices of Christian Slater, Billy Brown, Liam McIntyre, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Gideon Emery, Tara Strong, Vanessa Williams, C. Thomas Howell, Dania Ramirez, James Urbaniak, Julie Nathanson, Jim Pirri, Greg Grunberg.

This ain’t the “Super Friends.”

There have been ‘R’-rated movies from the DC Universe brand before, but Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay pushes the limits of its rating more than those previous installments, and not just by increasing the level of violence. The film also has a lot of fun turning the dial up on sexual material and nudity in a way viewers might not have expected from a comic book movie.

Then again, this is a “Suicide Squad” movie, and that’s probably going to bring a harder edge by default. As comic book fans would have known even before the live-action movie version came out in 2016, the Suicide Squad is a team of supervillains assembled by a shady government operative named Amanda Waller to undertake dangerous missions for which they can take the blame if anything goes wrong. And they follow orders because Waller installs explosives in their head that she can detonate if they betray her.

For this mission, Waller wants the team to retrieve a mystical artifact that can guarantee the soul of whomever is holding it will go straight to heaven. But it will only work once, which makes for some great plot dynamics since anyone who wants it can’t get it from someone who has it by killing them.

Waller’s not the only one seeking the “Get Out of Hell Free” card, providing plenty of opportunities for action as several teams of bad guys confront each other to take control of it. The plot also allows for a nice connection to the previous DC movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which paved the way for this string of 10 movies that share a continuity.

The lineup includes a few characters familiar to those who have seen the live-action version, including the assassin Deadshot (excellently voiced by Christian Slater), the snarky Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre) and, of course, Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), whose primary contribution to the team seems to be her immense popularity.

This is a much more satisfying treatment of the material than the live-action attempt. The ‘R’ rating has lifted the constraints from the creative team, and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun pushing the material as far as they can. And with bad guys versus bad guys, there’s a lot of ways to push, and no reason to expect that any of them can’t be killed off at any time (except for Harley, maybe).

And that brings us to the commentary track by producer James Tucker and writer Alan Burnett, who wrote the script as one of his last projects before retiring. They can’t help but talk about Burnett’s long career in superhero animation, dating all the way back to the squeaky clean “Super Friends” cartoons of the 1970s and ’80s. So it’s only natural that they would joke about how any 10 seconds of this movie would make the network standards-and-practices suits responsible for “Super Friends” blush.

Comic book fans will enjoy seeing appearances from some of the more obscure characters in the canon, including Tobias Whale, who can also currently be seen in live-action as one of the main villains on the new “Black Lightning” TV series. And another member of the team is Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), a version of whom is part one of the heroes on the current “The Flash” TV show. Frost was also part of the team in another great Suicide Squad adventure, the 2014 standalone animated movie Batman: Assault on Arkham, the success of which supposedly helped get approval to make the live-action movie.

The Blu-ray also includes short featurettes about the histories of the Deadshot and Boomerang characters, as well as a 10-minute pontification about the power of the “MacGuffin” — a good plot device to set the story in motion.

Finally, the Blu-ray offers a sneak preview of the next DC Universe movie, The Death of Superman, which will be the first of two films to adapt the legendary comic book storyline that was the basis (in a much abridged form) for the first DC Universe animated movie, Superman: Doomseday, back in 2007.